SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Tribune Exclusive
Lanka to raise armoured brigade with Pak help

New Delhi, January 30
Sri Lanka is all set to raise an armoured brigade with Pakistan’s help, a move full of immense strategic connotations for India. First, it indicates that Sri Lanka has no intention to pursue the dialogue process anymore with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and plans to escalate the civil war.
In video (56k)
Sri Lanka’s Leader of the Opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe gestures as he talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during a meeting in New Delhi Sri Lanka’s Leader of the Opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe gestures as he talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during a meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday.

From Bihar to California, with IT
Patna, January 30
Mr Ravi Verma of the US and chief minister Nitish Kumar have one thing common. Both of them dream of a new Bihar with the active participation of NRIs who have their roots in the state.




EARLIER STORIES


Surajkund mela to go international
Haryana for special tourism zones, Palace-on-Wheels stopovers
New Delhi, January 30
Haryana appears to have massive plans to cash in on the ongoing tourism bonhomie in the country. The state will soon have a brand-new tourism policy on the lines of Kerala to set up special tourism zones throughout the state.

UN urged to declare Oct 2 as Non-Violence Day
New Delhi, January 30
The two-day international conference commemorating Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘satyagraha’ centenary ended here today with a forceful plea to the United Nations to declare his birth anniversary on October 2 as International Non-Violence Day.


Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the concluding plenary session of a conference on non-violence in New Delhi on Tuesday. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal
Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the concluding plenary session of a conference on non-violence in New Delhi

Nation remembers Gandhi
New Delhi, January 30
A grateful nation today solemnly remembered Mahatma Gandhi, an apostle of peace and non-violence, on his 59th death anniversary, recalling his immense contribution in liberating the country from foreign yoke and in improving the condition of the downtrodden.

Gorakhpur: BSP seeks CBI probe
Lucknow, January 30
While sporadic incidents of violence continued to disrupt peace in Purvanchal, the Bahujan Samaj Party demanded a CBI probe and dismissal of the state government. Courting arrests across the state the Bhartiya Janta Party leaders asked for the immediate release of their member of Parliament Yogi Adityanath. Despite at least three divisions and seven districts in the east part of the state facing continued communal violence, no senior Home Department official was available for comments.


Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati addresses a press conference demanding a CBI inquiry into Gorakhpur riots, in Lucknow on Tuesday. — PTI photo
Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati addresses a press conference demanding a CBI inquiry into Gorakhpur riots, in Lucknow

PMK seeks removal of non-Tamil HC Judges
Chennai, January 30
Linguistic chauvinism is now creeping into the third pillar of democracy - the judiciary, with the Pattali Makkal Katchi, a constituent of the ruling United People’s Alliance at the Centre, demanding that non-Tamil Judges be removed from the Madras High Court.

Nitish rule augurs well for ‘babus’
Patna, January 30
The 14 months of Nitish rule in Bihar has witnessed a gradual consolidation of government officers on the lines of establishing the rule of law. This understandably enraged a section of elected representatives who were not happy for losing their supremacy over the bureaucracy.

Ex-MLA, wives sentenced to RI
Chennai, January 30
A special court sentenced ex-MLA of the AIADMK party, Panneer Selvam to three years rigorous imprisonment and his two wives to one year rigorous imprisonment in a case of disproportionate wealth, here today.

HIV village in denial mode
Budni (Karnataka), January 30
If the village of Ingalgi, where Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy stayed overnight with a HIV positive family is a watershed example of how people admit having HIV and cooperate to control it, this village just 12 km away from it in Bagalkot district is an example of the denial mode of villages, which are on the AIDS radar.

Concern over access to affordable medication
Body of AIDS, HIV+ writes to PM
New Delhi, January 30
People living with AIDS and HIV have written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, voicing their concern regarding access to safe, effective and affordable medicines in the country.

In this picture taken on Monday, members of a dance troupe perform against the backdrop of the Taj Mahal in Agra to celebrate the launch of Microsoft Windows Vista and 2007 Office
In this picture taken on Monday, members of a dance troupe perform against the backdrop of the Taj Mahal in Agra to celebrate the launch of Microsoft Windows Vista and 2007 Office. The performance, also staged to announce funding for the non-government organisation the Centre for Health Education, Training and Nutrition Awareness, is part of the showcase of the global launch of the new Microsoft products.

Muslim women watch a religious procession on the holy day of Ashura in Mumbai
Muslim women watch a religious procession on the holy day of Ashura in Mumbai on Tuesday. Ashura commemorates the seventh- century slaying of the Prophet Mohammed's grandson Imam Hussein. — AFP photos

Diesel used by industries eligible for tax relief: SC
New Delhi, January 30
In a major relief to industries, specially the small units using diesel as the energy source for running their factories in the event of power failure, the Supreme Court has ruled that the fuel will be considered a manufacturing material liable for tax exemption like any other raw material.

Left’s Budget proposals next week
New Delhi, January 30
The Left parties would submit its budget proposals to the Finance Minister P Chidambaram next week urging the government to focus its financial outlay in key areas like agriculture, health, education and unemployment.

Telugu film industry celebrates diamond jubilee
Hyderabad, January 30
The Telugu film industry, the second largest in India, has celebrated 75 years of its glorious existence in style at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre here.

Farewell
A noted tourism writer
New Delhi, January 30
Rabindra Seth was a multi-faceted personality. Whatever job he was assigned, from pen-pushing in the government to the Army to All India Radio to public relations to tourism writing, he saw to it that the assignment did not disturb the serenity on his face.

Rabindra Shah is no more
New Delhi, January 30
Well-known journalist and former defence ministry PRO Rabindra Shah died here today of heart failure. He was 82. Shah, who breathed his last at one pm, is survived by a son and a daughter. He will be cremated at the Lodhi Road crematorium tomorrow.

Getting a taste of justice after 33 years
Patna, January 30
It was indeed a case of justice delayed but not denied for Suraj Nath Yadav who finally got justice after fighting a legal battle for over three decades. In what can perhaps be called the longest ever legal battle involving Yadav was related to a petty crime over the alleged theft of a pair of oxen.

Magsasay Award winner Kiran Bedi matches steps with tribal students during the “Children’s March Against Poverty” campaign organised by the WNTA in New Delhi
Magsasay Award winner Kiran Bedi matches steps with tribal students during the “Children’s March Against Poverty” campaign organised by the WNTA in New Delhi on Tuesday. — PTI

Curb violence in states, CPM asks Centre
New Delhi, January 30
The CPM today asked the Centre to direct state governments to take strict action to curb communal violence as the BJP has taken aggressive communal stance in spate of incidents in different parts of the country.

Nithari: Cop’s house raided
Meerut, January 30
Cracking down on erring Uttar Pradesh police officials in connection with the Nithari serial killings, the CBI sleuths today raided the home of a dismissed officer here and recovered documents related to the missing children.

Task force for minorities mooted
New Delhi, January 30
With the Assembly elections in Punjab and Uttarakhand barely three weeks away, the Congress-led UPA government has decided to set up an inter-ministerial task force by a Planning Commission member to draw up a policy for an effective implementation of programmes for the uplift of the minorities all over the country.

Widespread rain in region
New Delhi, January 30
Rain drenched vast swathes of North India overnight breaking a prolonged dry spell though mercury hovered several notches above normal in plains as higher hills in the region shivered under freezing cold.

Muharram observed
New Delhi, January 30
Muharram, marking the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain in Iraq’s Karbala over 1,400 years ago, was observed across India today with Shia Muslims organising traditional processions. In video (56k)

Videos
Movies running across the theatres this week.
(56k)
Regional party to oppose Communist bastion's moves to woo industry.
(56k)
Donors say Civil War is choking Sri Lanka.
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Tribune Exclusive
Lanka to raise armoured brigade with Pak help
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 30
Sri Lanka is all set to raise an armoured brigade with Pakistan’s help, a move full of immense strategic connotations for India.

First, it indicates that Sri Lanka has no intention to pursue the dialogue process anymore with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and plans to escalate the civil war.

This scenario is fraught with dangerous consequences for the UPA government, supported from inside by the DMK, which has 16 members in the Lok Sabha.

Secondly, the development is yet another major Pakistani effort to gain a strategic toehold in India’s backwaters.

This when China too has been making forays into the Sri Lankan strategic space.

Professional generals of the Sri Lankan military have opposed the move, where Pakistani kickbacks allegedly have played a major role in convincing Colombo.

Some objections, which are obvious to any military analyst, are enumerated below.

* A complete brigade is not required by Colombo as in all probability it cannot be used in the intended terrain, the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka, where the Tamil population is concentrated and LTTE rules.

* The armoured brigade, comprising tanks and armoured personnel carriers or APCs, will be mostly used in the northern and eastern regions of Sri Lanka like Mullaitivu, Vavuniya and Killinochchi. The terrain in the northern and eastern Sri Lanka is slushy and forested in many areas. This makes the area untankable or unfit for use of tanks.

* Al Zarar tanks are likely to form the mainstay of the proposed new armoured brigade. Al Zarar is a redesignation of the Chinese T59 tank, itself a copy of the ubiquitous Soviet T-54A medium tank. The T54 entered service in 1947 while its Chinese copy, the T59, was inducted into service by the PLA in 1959.

* The Al Zarar offer to Sri Lanka is essentially second-hand junk entering service just after the second world war. Even if inducted, Al Zarar, designed more than half a century ago, cannot be used in the slushy terrain of northern and eastern Sri Lanka against the Tamil Tigers. The Al Zarar, which is still in operation in the Pakistani army, has been junked by most of its users like East European and Central Asian countries.

This means that the armoured brigade can become a white elephant and put a huge burden on Sri Lankan military budget.

Pakistan’s second-hand Al Zarar tanks and APCs on offer can alone cost about $ 100 million.

The professional Sri Lankan generals, most of whom have been sidelined from the decision-making process, are cribbing that even retired Pakistani army officials, posted in Colombo, are more powerful than serving generals of Sri Lanka.

Earlier Col Bashir Wali (retd), Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka from August 2004 to July 2006, was calling the shots.

Now his successor, Air Vice-Marshal Shehzad Aslam Chaudhry (retd), is directing the show.

Pakistan has been posting experienced military campaigners as High Commissioners in Colombo in recent years.

There have been reports on numerous occasions that Pakistani High Commissioner in Colombo have been actively assisting the Sri Lankan army and air force against the LTTE.

What has started with supplying few general purpose bombs and replenishments, Pakistan is now attempting to supply a comprehensive defence package, complete with the associated military strategy.

The worst-case scenario for India may be that Pakistan begins looking at Sri Lanka for attaining strategic depth similar to its failed strategy in Afghanistan.

Significantly newly appointed Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohita Bogallagama arrived here tonight to hold discussions with his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tomorrow.

Dr Manmohan Singh today met former Sri Lankan Prime Minister and leader of the main opposition party, the United National Party, Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe, whose 18 parliamentarian colleagues had recently joined the government, led by the President, Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa.

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From Bihar to California, with IT
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, January 30
Mr Ravi Verma of the US and chief minister Nitish Kumar have one thing common.

Both of them dream of a new Bihar with the active participation of NRIs who have their roots in the state.

By opening a technical institute in his hometown Katihar in December 2005 days after the Nitish Kumar government came to power, Mr Verma has shown other NRIs from Bihar the potential the state has.

A graduate from the IIT at Kanpur, Mr Verma had migrated to the US in 1994-95.

Following the initiative by Mr Verma, Katihar is today providing technical support to public and private sector firms in California.

Mr Verma is the CEO of the Telecommand Software and Services in the Silicon Valley, that maintains entrepreneur resource planning (ERP) systems of the state of California.

ERP systems integrate data and processes of an organisation into a unified system.

Mr Verma was recently in Patna in connection with the three-day global meet on ‘Resurgent Bihar’, that concluded here on January 21.

Talking to the Tribune, Mr Verma said, “I am from Katihar. Initially I invested some dollars here because I feel charity should begin at home. It was my childhood dream to do something for my native place.”

In his 30s, Mr Verma is proud of running a successful software development centre here.

He said, “Not many thought that it could actually happen. I chose Katihar to prove that one can make a difference.”

Claiming that the venture was profitable from day one, Mr Verma explained, “California is our premier customer and our Katihar team works hard to maintain its systems. Our team in Katihar works as if they are sitting in the US itself.”

The biggest challenge for Mr Verma was to motivate the people in Katihar.

He had hired software engineers belonging to the town who had gone to cities like Bangalore and Mumbai in search of work.

Mr Verma also set up the RS College of Computer Science and Engineering at Katihar in July last year.

Mr Verma is now working on an idea to set up a modern engineering college at Patna.

After playing a key role in initiating the process of NRI investment in Bihar, Mr Verma has now put forward a six-point formula for the Indian diaspora to go ahead with setting up shop in the state.

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Surajkund mela to go international
Haryana for special tourism zones, Palace-on-Wheels stopovers
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 30
Haryana appears to have massive plans to cash in on the ongoing tourism bonhomie in the country.

The state will soon have a brand-new tourism policy on the lines of Kerala to set up special tourism zones (STZs) throughout the state.

Besides this, the state has also sent a proposal to the Centre for including Kurukshetra and Pinjore as stopovers in the ambitious Palace-on-Wheels project for North India.

Haryana tourism minister Kiran Chowdhary has said the Centre has given a green signal to Haryana’s proposal.

The state’s equity in this project will be between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore, she has added.

The state Tourism Department has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take up with UNESCO the matter of declaring Kurukshetra a heritage city.

The all-women’s team, including state tourism secretary Keshani Anand Arora and Haryana Tourism Corporation managing director Satwanti Ahlawat, today unveiled plans for the forthcoming Surajkund mela.

To be inaugurated by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the mela on the outskirts of the Capital would begin on February 1, with Andhra Pradesh as the theme state.

Ms Chowdhary said the Surajkund mela was going international as Doha had shown interest in holding it there.

“Haryana has pioneered the concept of Surajkund and now Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa have approached us for the know-how on holding similar events in their respective states”, she said.

Regarding setting up of STZs, Ms Chowdhary said the first STZ would come up along the 138-km Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) highway.

Being developed as global economic corridor, the multi-crore, access-controlled KMP expressway would be at a par with European expressways.

The KMP STZ project was a part of a large plan to set up several other zones in the state.

To be able to do so, the state government would first bring in a special tourism policy in about six months.

“We are working on the policy and will put it before the chief minister for final approval”, the minister said.

As per officials, the groundwork for the tourism policy, which would be framed on the lines of a similar one in Kerala, was almost complete.

An international consultant had also been appointed to identify areas in the state where STZs would come up.

The zones would be all-encompassing and have facilities like hotels, restaurants and multiplexes, besides entertainment zones for children.

The Palace-on-Wheels project was on the lines of the one being operated by the Railways in Rajasthan.

It would touch Delhi, Amritsar and Pinjore.

Haryana had proposed Pinjore and Kurukshetra as stopovers.

The project would be executed in coordination with the Centre and the Punjab Government.

She said for the first time in 10 years, Haryana Tourism had been able to bring in Central funding to the tune of Rs 30 crore.

A part of the money would be used to promote the Panipat-Kurukshetra-Pinjore circuit as an integrated tourism circuit.

The ninth-century Bhima Devi temple would be included in the Pinjore circuit, she added.

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UN urged to declare Oct 2 as Non-Violence Day
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 30
The two-day international conference commemorating Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘satyagraha’ centenary ended here today with a forceful plea to the United Nations to declare his birth anniversary on October 2 as International Non-Violence Day.
It further decided to set up an international civil society forum to spread the teachings of Gandhi. Held in the backdrop of the growing criticism of the US invasion of Iraq, the conclave on peace and non-violence rejected unilateralism and urged the international community to expose the futility of violent and coercive means to resolve conflicts.

The conference, organised by the Congress and attended by representatives of 90 countries and 122 civil society groups, adopted a declaration acknowledging Gandhi’s historical contribution and decided to cherish the ideals of non-violence and peace which guided him in his struggle against injustice.

Concluding the conference, Congress president Sonia Gandhi proposed the formation of an institutional mechanism for an international civil society forum, comprising representatives of all continents, which would seek solutions to global concerns based on Gandhian principles and values.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who addressed the concluding session, stressed that the values of peace and tolerance upheld by Mahatma Gandhi, whose death anniversary was observed today, continued to be relevant in today’s world.

Stating that the essence of the Mahatma’s philosophy was the empowerment of every individual, irrespective of caste, class, creed or community, Dr Manmohan Singh said democracy was all about tolerance and asserting the right to dissent.

The mesmerising speech by Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a leading figure of South Africa’s anti-Apartheid movement, was the highlight of the concluding session.

He held everybody spellbound with his message of peace and non-violence, delivered in his trademark sing-song voice and unforgettable dramatic flourishes.

Punctuating his speech with amusing, but telling anecdotes, Archbishop Tutu referred to the timeless nature of Gandhian values and declared that violence, injustice and evil would never prevail.

“We will never win a war against terror. We can be free together, we can be safe together, we can be prosperous together, we can be humane together”, he declared.

The conclave, attended by leaders, freedom fighters and civil society groups, advocated the need for creating a world free of terrorism, hatred and violence through dialogue and peaceful means.

Reflecting the views expressed during the two-day deliberations, the declaration emphasised the need for making territorial boundaries irrelevant, where cultural frontiers were in an inclusive and ever-expanding mode.

It also resolved to work towards a world with a more equitable access to global resources, a world united in its struggle against poverty, illiteracy, disease, injustice and hunger and a world free from nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

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Nation remembers Gandhi
Our Correspondent

New Delhi, January 30
A grateful nation today solemnly remembered Mahatma Gandhi, an apostle of peace and non-violence, on his 59th death anniversary, recalling his immense contribution in liberating the country from foreign yoke and in improving the condition of the downtrodden.

The occasion, which was also observed as Martyrs’ Day, was marked by the rendering of devotional songs, garlanding of the statue of the Mahatma and vows to maintain communal harmony.

The country observed a two-minute silence at 11 this morning in memory of those who laid down their lives fighting for the freedom of the country.

Speakers at several functions eulogised Gandhi, affectionately called Bapu, for his philosophy of truth and non-violence, which, they said, is still relevant in today's strife-torn world.

President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam led the nation by offering floral tributes at the Mahatma’s memorial Rajghat in the national capital.

Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, leader of the opposition L.K. Advani and a host of political leaders also placed flowers at the memorial.

Paying tributes to Gandhiji, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said his government had launched a number of schemes to improve the lot of neglected sections of the society.

Tamil Nadu Governor S.S. Barnala garlanded the statue of the father of the nation near Marina Beach in Chennai. Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi also paid tributes to the Bapu.

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Gorakhpur: BSP seeks CBI probe
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, January 30
While sporadic incidents of violence continued to disrupt peace in Purvanchal, the Bahujan Samaj Party demanded a CBI probe and dismissal of the state government. Courting arrests across the state the Bhartiya Janta Party leaders asked for the immediate release of their member of Parliament Yogi Adityanath.

Despite at least three divisions and seven districts in the east part of the state facing continued communal violence, no senior Home Department official was available for comments.

Arriving in the state capital, BSP chief Mayawati declared that the BSP would stage dharna and demonstrations across the state, barring Gorakhpur division, on Wednesday to protest against the communal violence and the madarsa rape case.

Demanding a CBI probe, Ms Mayawati called the communal violence a “well-planned political conspiracy” jointly staged by the SP and BJP to regain their lost political ground.

Calling upon the Governor to personally visited the trouble spot in Gorakhpur to make a first hand assessment of the situation, she also suggested that an all-party delegation of members of parliament should visit the riot torn area to do a fact finding.

Meanwhile, BJP state president Kesharinath Tripathi accused the state government of laxity in foreseeing the build up of tension in the region.

According to him, the state wide SP-sponsored protests to mourn the hanging of Saddam Hussain had started tension in the area that culminated in the present wide spread violence.

Leader of Opposition and senior BJP leader Lalji Tandon demanded the immediate release of their senior leaders ion Gorakhpur, including party MP Yagi Adityanath. He said that the state government had deliberately mishandled the situation by arresting them as provoking communal violence on the eve of Vidhan Sabha election was part of SP’s strategy to polarise votes.

Both Tandon and Tripathi were arrested earlier in the day when they were trying to reach Gorakhpur.

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PMK seeks removal of non-Tamil HC Judges
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, January 30
Linguistic chauvinism is now creeping into the third pillar of democracy - the judiciary, with the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), a constituent of the ruling United People’s Alliance at the Centre, demanding that non-Tamil Judges be removed from the Madras High Court.

The PMK founder, Dr S. Ramadoss, said, “Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi should take up the matter with the Centre to avoid the appointment of judges who do not know Tamil in the Madras High Court”. He felt that non-Tamil judges should be shifted from the High Court to ensure effective dispensation of justice in the light of the recent decision to make Tamil the working language of the judiciary.

The PMK is also a partner in the ruling Democratic Progressive Alliance (DPA) in Tamil Nadu and known to champion the cause of Tamils.

While it is part of the Central Government with Dr S. Ramadoss’ son, Dr Anbumani Ramadoss being the Union Health Minister and Mr R. Velu, Minister of State for Railways, it is supporting the DMK government here from outside.

The PMK leader even demanded, “Tamil-knowing judges should not be transferred to other states from the Madras High Court and bringing judges from other High Courts should be avoided.

“There are five non-Tamil judges in our High Court but no other High Court in the country has the same number of Tamil judges”. Incidentally, the Madras High Court Chief Justice A.P. Shah is a non-Tamil along with four other judges.

Expressing concern about the increase in the number of non-Tamil judges in the Madras High Court, the PMK leader felt that the judges who were from other states might face practical problems during court procedures as Tamil would soon become the working knowledge also in the High Court.

He said a senior Tamil judge from the High Court was being transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court and his replacement was being brought from another state.

Dr Ramadoss pointed out that the judge, who was being considered for transfer, was also a member of the panel to select new judges of the Madras High Court and since he was the only Tamil in the selection committee his transfer would seriously affect the body packed with judges with no knowledge of Tamil.

“In such a situation, there will be problems in the choice of the right kind of judge to suit the conditions of Tamil Nadu and as such the transfer of this Tamil-knowing judge should be stopped,” Dr Ramadoss demanded.

Other than being the founder of the PMK, Dr Ramadoss also heads the Tamil Protection Movement, which had campaigned against English names of Tamil films and protested against non-Tamil hoardings in Tamil Nadu.

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Nitish rule augurs well for ‘babus’
Tribune News Service

Patna, January 30
The 14 months of Nitish rule in Bihar has witnessed a gradual consolidation of government officers on the lines of establishing the rule of law.

This understandably enraged a section of elected representatives who were not happy for losing their supremacy over the bureaucracy. It was obviously in sharp contrast to the previous Lalu raj.

Initially, the new trend where officials were given a free hand to discharge their duties without any fear and favour generated some ego clashes between “netas” and “babus”.

But with a palpable administrative machinery in place over the past few months, it apparently put the netas on back foot in terms of dictating terms.

When the first session of the Bihar Assembly began after the NDA came to power in the state in 2005, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh allegedly slapped a duty officer at the Assembly gates for asking to see the minister’s identity documents.

The subsequent public outrage had forced Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to apologise on behalf of the errant minister.

However, this single incident alone was indicative of the legacy inherited by Mr Nitish Kumar and the challenges ahead to put things in order for the sake of delivering good governance to rebuild Bihar where no one was above the law.

Similar instances continued to be reported from across the state.

So much so that policemen’s clashes with criminals were no longer a big news in “new” Bihar now.

In a marked departure from the bureaucrats’ silence during the 15-year RJD rule, government officials were now voicing their protest.

At least 10 such incidents were reported during the past 14 months.

One could recall the scuffle between Mr Anand Mohan, a former MP and Bihar People’s Party (BPP) chief, and Patna SSP Kundan Krishnan in recent past when the police had prevented Mr Mohan from addressing mediapersons while in transit under judicial custody at the Patna railway station.

Mr Mohan had earned further notoriety when he had raised his hand at the IPS officer who was widely seen as doing his best to change Patna’s image as a crime capital.

Mr Mohan already had several cases pending against him and was languishing in jail.

MLAs did object to the Chief Secretary’s circular last year suggesting DMs and SPs would meet them only on Tuesdays for a fixed period of time. Some MLAs also complained that leave aside DMs and SPs, even the BDOs these days did not behave properly with them.

One could refer to the recent “mini revolt” within the BJP where the party MLAs had strongly objected to the dominance of officials over elected representatives.

The tough stand by the police to put the ruling JD (U) MLA from Piro, Mr Sunil Pandey, behind the bars after his drunken brawl at a city hotel was telecast was another case to ponder.

Sources further disclosed that decks were almost cleared to issue an arrest warrant against the “bahubali” LJP MP Surajbhan Singh, who was charged with murder and other related charges.

The credit for a turnaround in law and order to a great extent, an issue which had earned disrepute to Bihar in the past, should be given to Mr Nitish Kumar who allowed a freehand to the police and bureaucracy to bring back the faith of the people in the administration.

As the ADGP Abhayand put it, things were changing with the declining cases of kidnapping and other crimes. “Over 5,000 persons were convicted in the past one year through speedy trials and some of the criminals got life imprisonment too”, he said.

It was the RJD, which was most vocal in criticising the Nitish government for giving unbridled powers to bureaucrats. “Officials posted in districts and the state headquarters did not respond to MLAs’ letters and did not even send acknowledgements. It has become a norm. Officials are not giving importance to MLAs any more”, alleged RJD MLA Ram Chandra Pruve soon after the Chief Secretary reportedly issued the letter fixing Tuesday as the date of meeting between elected representatives and DMs and SPs.

The issue was raised in the Assembly too last year as the MLAs were apparently apprehensive of losing their command over the officials.

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Ex-MLA, wives sentenced to RI
Tribune News Service

Chennai, January 30
A special court sentenced ex-MLA of the AIADMK party, Panneer Selvam to three years rigorous imprisonment and his two wives to one year rigorous imprisonment in a case of disproportionate wealth, here today.

Mr Selvam, who represented Bodinagyanoor constituency, was accused of amassing disproportionate wealth during his tenure as MLA between 1992-96.

The Anti-Corruption Wing filed a case in 1997 charging him of having amassed assets worth Rs 21, 36, 435. A charge sheet was also filed against his two wives, Dhanabakiyam and Janaki Ammal, on 4 November 2003.

Judge Dhakshnamurthy also ordered the accused to pay a fine of Rs 5,000 each. Before the sentence was announced the accused pleaded minimum punishment should be given them as they were innocent. The judge rejected the plea on the basis that they were affluent enough to acquire properties on their own which they had done prior to the check period.

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HIV village in denial mode
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Budni (Karnataka), January 30
If the village of Ingalgi, where Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy stayed overnight with a HIV positive family is a watershed example of how people admit having HIV and cooperate to control it, this village just 12 km away from it in Bagalkot district is an example of the denial mode of villages, which are on the AIDS radar.

HIV positive cases are a grim reality in this village with a profile of the village made by the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) of the Karnataka Health Promotion Trust (KHPT) saying HIV has claimed 15 deaths in the last 15 years and that there are 35 HIV positive persons in the village.

But it is difficult to get any information from villagers, who would rather talk about chikungunya and other diseases in the same breath with AIDS. This is so, despite a few villagers, including former “devdasis”, joining the movement to spread awareness about HIV through poetry and song.

Villagers know about HIV and its dangers but their pride prevents them from admitting the fact that the scourge is eating away at their village. No one admits there are any sex workers in the village, only former “devdasis”.

This apparently is safe as “devdasis” in this region work practically as sex workers.This cultural tradition, as this practice is viewed in the region, in fact perpetuates the home-based sex model and even results in older “devdasis” functioning as madams for their younger relatives.

This reporter, who was part of a small team of journalists taken to the village, found that the villagers are afraid to come out in the open and discuss ways and means to end the “devdasi” tradition which is partly responsible for the spread of HIV in the region.

No one was ready to answer difficult questions like the number of deaths due to AIDS in the village or the number of practising “devdasis”.

However, what was heartening was that those who have directly been affected by HIV are building a slow but steady movement to change the way the village looks at the disease. Adiveppa Gurupadappa Reddyaratti, the village postman, who is a member of the Village Health Committee (VHC) which was formed in January last year, is one of the most passionate. Reddyaratti has lost three family members to HIV and feels it is high time to take the bull by the horns.

"Realising the magnitude of the problem I volunteered to establish a condom depot in the village", says the postman. He also uses poetry, which he composes himself, to target youth leading promiscuous lives besides telling a real life story of a young man of the village who was lost to AIDS because of such a lifestyle. "These examples shake up the young more than any advertisement and gets others to chip in", he adds.

Among the others is Sangaiah, a gram panchayat member, who has contributed funds for holding a camp and was also successful in persuading the panchayat to provide a building for the Village Health Committee set up in the village. This has resulted in 65 persons being referred for voluntary testing and care and support being given to 14 HIV positive persons.

People like Reddyaratti are also working to make pre-marital HIV tests mandatory. In fact, former “devdasi” Kalavathy says young girls of the village are keener than the men folk about this proposal. "They say they know nothing about the sexual behaviour of their future husbands and do not want to be infected with the disease or see their men die of HIV a few years after marriage as has been happening in the area".

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Concern over access to affordable medication
Body of AIDS, HIV+ writes to PM
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 30
People living with AIDS and HIV have written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, voicing their concern regarding access to safe, effective and affordable medicines in the country.

“We do not wish to share the fate of our friends in South Africa, where thousands of patients died of AIDS, unable to access affordable medication, thanks to pharmaceutical MNCs asking high price for patent rights”, says the letter signed by the Indian Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS (INP+) president Elango Ramachandran.

The INP+ is a national network for and of people living with HIV and AIDS in India and has at least 32,000 members across the country. In May 2005, India, while bringing into complaince the patent law was also mindful of the constitutional guarantee of the right to health and life by providing various safeguards.

The INP + has used several of these safeguards to continue access safe, effective and affordable generic medicines from India and so far has filed over 12 pre-grant oppositions to patent applications for key AIDS drugs.

However, fearing that pharmaceutical MNC Novartis case against the Indian Government in the Chennai High Court may “challenge Indian citizens’ right to health”, the INP+ has appealed to Dr Manmohan Singh “to do everything in his power to ensure that the case is defended to the best of the Indian Government’s ability”.

Novartis had sued the Indian Government and its patent law after its application for patent for anti-cancer drug Gleevec was rejected by the Indian Patents Office. As per the Indian patent law, the drug is the new form of an old drug and therefore, not patentable under the Indian law.

The country’s patent law prevents grants of patents to existing drugs in a new form, use or combination and limits the patenting of pharmaceuticals to actual innovations. Today, India is the main supplier of essential medicines for developing countries and 67 per cent of medicines produced in India are exported to developing countries.

The country is also the world’s primary source of affordable anti-retroviral medicines for AIDS as it is one of the few countries with the capacity to produce these newer medicines as generics.

As per the NGO Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines, all AIDS programmes use India as their main source of products.

“According to Mr Ramachandran, in South Africa, the Swiss pharmaceutical company was one of the 39 companies that took the government to court five years ago on the plea of protecting intellectual property.

“By the time the companies were pressurised by the civil society to withdraw the case, thousands of AIDS patients died, unable to access affordable medicines”, he said.

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Diesel used by industries eligible for tax relief: SC
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 30
In a major relief to industries, specially the small units using diesel as the energy source for running their factories in the event of power failure, the Supreme Court has ruled that the fuel will be considered a manufacturing material liable for tax exemption like any other raw material.

The court laid down three tests for any production material to be considered as “raw material” to get the sales tax concession provided by any state government to the industrial units. These are: the supplier must be a registered dealer of any raw material, the material must be used only for the manufacture of goods and the goods so produced must be for sale within the state or in the inter-state trade.

A Bench of Mr Justice A.R. Lakshmanan and Mr Justice Altamas Kabir said if these tests were fulfilled in respect of the use of diesel for the production of goods even as fuel, it would fall in the category of raw material and the industry would be entitled to tax concession on it as was available for any other manufacturing material.

The ruling came on an appeal of the Commercial Taxation Department of Rajasthan, which was ultimately dismissed by the court, as the department had refused to grant sales tax concession of one per cent to local textile company Rajasthan Taxchem Ltd, which had been using diesel as fuel to run its unit for producing polyester yarn.

The sales tax laws of the state provided that an industrial unit would have to tax at the rate of 3 per cent instead of normal 4 per cent on the purchase of raw material used for the manufacture of the final product. The textile unit had sought one per cent tax relief on diesel used for generating electricity by the DG sets.

But the Commercial Taxation Officer of the state had assessed it for tax at the rate of 4 per cent instead of 3 per cent and held that “diesel is not a raw material directly used for the manufacture of polyester yarn and, therefore, not liable to the concession”.

However, the Rajasthan Tax Board had overruled the Commercial Taxation Officer’s order and said the company was entitled to one per cent concession on diesel used for running its unit to generate electricity to produce the yarn as it would fall in the category of raw material for that purpose. The ruling was upheld by the Rajasthan High Court on an appeal by the Taxation Department.

Aggrieved by these orders, the Taxation Department had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, which was ultimately rejected.

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Left’s Budget proposals next week
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 30
The Left parties would submit its budget proposals to the Finance Minister P Chidambaram next week urging the government to focus its financial outlay in key areas like agriculture, health, education and unemployment.

The parties, which provide crucial outside support to the UPA Government, identified more than 27 areas, which they feel, have not received enough attention of the Manmohan Singh Government.

The parties - CPI(M), CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc - are in the process of drafting specific proposals containing their suggestions and plans to hand it over to Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the first week of February.

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Telugu film industry celebrates diamond jubilee
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, January 30
The Telugu film industry, the second largest in India, has celebrated 75 years of its glorious existence in style at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre here.

Many living legends like Dada Saheb Phalke award winner A. Nageswara Rao and Anjali Devi, current crop of superstars such as Nagarjuna and Balakrishna, and a host of directors, producers and technicians gathered here to relive some of the magical moments of Telugu cinema and pay tributes to great artistes and directors of the past.

The three-day celebrations, which culminated on January 28, were marred by a public spat between senior artistes Chiranjeevi and Mohan Babu on the dais late last night in the presence of chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy.

Angered at the honour bestowed on Chiranjeevi as a living legend, the maverick villain-turned-hero Mohan Babu rejected his felicitation as a film celebrity, attributing motives to the organisers.

While Mohan Babu, awarded the Padma Shri this year, claimed that he was a legend in his own right, Padma Bhushan awardee Chiranjeevi politely refused the award, saying only time would tell the people’s choice.

A postal cover was released by the Department of Posts to mark the occasion and an exhibition of photographs and posters of films made during the last 75 years was held.

The first talkie in Telugu, ‘Bhakta Prahlada’, was made in 1931, produced by Ardeshir Irani of the Imperial Light Company and directed by H.M. Reddy.

The Telugu film industry, known as Tollywood here, was next only to Hindi in the number of films made every year. The diamond jubilee year saw the Telugu film ‘Pokiri’, starring Mahesh Babu, grossing a whopping Rs 40 crore at the box office.

According to reports, Boney Kapoor had bought the Hindi remake rights of this 2006 blockbuster for Rs 75 lakh, in which Salman Khan was tipped to play the lead.

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Task force for minorities mooted
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 30
With the Assembly elections in Punjab and Uttarakhand barely three weeks away, the Congress-led UPA government has decided to set up an inter-ministerial task force by a Planning Commission member to draw up a policy for an effective implementation of programmes for the uplift of the minorities all over the country.

The high-power Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee which studied the social, economic and political status of minorities in the country had sent shock waves across the board that proper efforts had not been made since Independence for their proper uplift.

The Task Force forms part of the ongoing compilation of religion based population statistics to ensure that funds sanctioned for minorities reached the targeted sections.

Official sources said once this mapping is over, there will be need to execute minority programmes and for this reason the Union Minority Affairs Ministry has felt the need for a task force to study the implications of the policies for the minority population. Clearly, the task force will be tasked with suggesting remedial measures in housing, education, health and civic amenities to improve the living and employment conditions for minorities.

The Minority Affairs Ministry is awaiting the response of the union Finance ministry to its suggestion that targets for disbursing credit should be fixed for the minorities.

Simultaneously, the Minority Affairs Ministry has sent its proposals to the Planning Commission to earmark Rs 110 billion for minority development in the 11th Fifth Year Plan.

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Farewell
A noted tourism writer
K.R. Wadhwaney

New Delhi, January 30
Rabindra Seth was a multi-faceted personality. Whatever job he was assigned, from pen-pushing in the government to the Army to All India Radio to public relations to tourism writing, he saw to it that the assignment did not disturb the serenity on his face.

During his illustrious professional career, Seth handled intricate and sensitive assignments, including defence, meticulously. Rich in contacts -- he maintained them despite the passage of time and distance -- he had innumerable admirers and, hardly had any detractor.

Seth’s popularity was on account of his knowing himself. If one were to describe him in one word, he was a great partisan. In fact, he was much more than that but he secured acclaim through his writings on tourism.

A staunch believer in simple and straight-forward writings, Seth was opposed to punchy introductory paragraphs. He was not a professional full-time journalist, yet there was hardly any shortcoming in his work and, if there was any, he more than atoned for it with his first-hand knowledge and intimate details about tourism. His thoroughness of his grounding on the subject was amazing.

Endowed with multiple incidents and anecdotes with his sharp memory, his sense of humour and his fine unselfconsciousness made him exceedingly like-able in every press conference. He was quick to differentiate between fair play and sharp practice.

Seth was a unique personality to the extent that he boiled within but seldom over even when he had a reason to. He straightaway made his presence felt. He liked hugging, particularly females of varying ages. Once he was meeting his old colleague after a long interval. “May I kiss you”, he asked her. To this, to his surprise, she quietly whispered: “Please do print it, but don’t publish it”.

In an impromptu invite at a tiny celebrations in a close group of friends on the occasion of Republic Day, Seth was dazzling with a Kashmiri shawl around him. His forehead was shining. Little did he realise that the 58th celebrations would be his last!

Prone to ‘tripping’ as he advanced his age, Seth had a fall in the bathroom on January 29. He still felt that the meeting was more important than his self-being. The meeting got cancelled and he returned home. He developed complications. He was rushed to hospital where doctors and specialists tried in vain to revive him.

Cremation tomorrow.

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Rabindra Shah is no more

New Delhi, January 30
Well-known journalist and former defence ministry PRO Rabindra Shah died here today of heart failure.

He was 82.

Shah, who breathed his last at one pm, is survived by a son and a daughter. He will be cremated at the Lodhi Road crematorium tomorrow.

He started his career with All India Radio, where he spent more than two decades covering defence and Parliament.

During 1962-63, Shah was deputed to the defence ministry and served as PRO with the Indian Peacekeeping Mission in Congo.

He was invited by the defence establishment in 1966 for a three-year tenure, after which he joined the Press Institute of India.

In 1972, he joined the Indian Tourism Development Corporation as its PRO and served in the post for 11 years.

Later, he became a consultant to hotel chains like the Taj Group and ITC-Welcome Group and was associated with leading travel trade publications.

Shah's writings on tourism and aviation were recently published in two volumes of "Tourism in India". He was also awarded the UN Medal for Service in the Cause of Peace. —  PTI

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Getting a taste of justice after 33 years
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, January 30
It was indeed a case of justice delayed but not denied for Suraj Nath Yadav who finally got justice after fighting a legal battle for over three decades.

In what can perhaps be called the longest ever legal battle involving Yadav was related to a petty crime over the alleged theft of a pair of oxen.

A farmer from Ara in Bihar’s Bhojpur district, Yadav was under trial for 33 years. All those originally involved in the case are no longer alive.

Yadav is a relieved person now as he finally got freedom from the routine of making rounds of the court after the final judgement in the case on January 22 acquitted him of the charges.

The court of the first class judicial magistrate, Mr B.K Gupta, acquitted Yadav for want of adequate evidence against him.

Back in 1973, then 13 years old Suraj Nath Yadav, a landless labourer, was accused of stealing oxen.

Incidentally, all the parties involved in the case, including the complainant, four other co-accused and even the policeman investigating the case died during the course of 33-year-long trial.

A visibly jubilant Yadav said,”All papers were lost in the process of the trial, but I still had to present myself in the court on a regular basis”.

Even if Yadav was convicted at the age of 13 when he was accused of the crime, he would have been imprisoned for a maximum of three years. But the ordeal for him and his family carried on for over three decades.

Yadav used to trek 20 kilometers every three months to reach the court and spent over Rs 200 on lawyer’s fee every month. The poor farmer virtually sold everything to fight the case.

Giving details the defence lawyer R.K Jain said a pair of oxen was allegedly stolen from the house of Ram Vriksha Yadav of Nawada Ben vilage of Bhojpur district in 1973.

An FIR (no.14/74) was subsequently lodged under Sections 457 and 380 of the IPC. Almost six months later in January 1974, the police had recovered the stolen oxen and arrested five persons in this connection.

Finally chargesheets were filed against Ram Deo Yadav, Gopal Singh,Sabha Yadav, Suresh Yadav and Suraj Nath Yadav.

In May 1997, after the death of four of the five accused, the then first class judicial magistrate hearing the case had ordered the closure of the same on the ground that it was too old and that the prosecution did not have any evidence to present in the court.

Protesting his order, the informant Ram Vrikhsha Yadav’s son, Vishwant Yadav, had then filed a criminal revision petition in the court of the district judge to pursue the case till it was finally quashed this week ending the 33-year ordeal of Yadav.

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Curb violence in states, CPM asks Centre
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 30
The CPM today asked the Centre to direct state governments to take strict action to curb communal violence as the BJP has taken aggressive communal stance in spate of incidents in different parts of the country.

The Centre should collate all reports of the incidents and direct the state governments to take strict action to ensure that communal activities are curbed and peace maintained , the party polit bureau said in a statement.

Referring to recent communal incidents in Gorakhpur, Jabalpur, Bangalore, Tirur (Kerala) and Mandsaur (Madhya Pradesh), the CPM said the consequences of BJP's aggressive communal stance at its Lucknow session are becoming evident .

It said in many of these instances, the state administration had failed to realise the calculated plan to stir up trouble by the communal forces, it said, adding the Madhya Pradesh government refuses to act to protect the minorities .

Favouring firm action by state governments, the party said a common feature in these incidents was the involvement of RSS outfits.

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Nithari: Cop’s house raided

Meerut, January 30Cracking down on erring Uttar Pradesh police officials in connection with the Nithari serial killings, the CBI sleuths today raided the home of a dismissed officer here and recovered documents related to the missing children.

The house in Prayag Raj colony of Simranjeet Kaur, a sub-inspector who was in-charge of the police outpost in Nithari, was searched by the CBI officials.

Official sources said some documents pertaining to the missing children and details of bank lockers were found during the raid.

Besides investigating the murders in Noida, the CBI is probing whether there were any lapses by the local police and administration.

The agency today completed two days of polygraphic tests on Moninder Singh Pandher and his servant Surendra Koli, the main accused in the case, the sources said. —  PTI

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Widespread rain in region

New Delhi, January 30
Rain drenched vast swathes of North India overnight breaking a prolonged dry spell though mercury hovered several notches above normal in plains as higher hills in the region shivered under freezing cold.

Widespread rains dipped mercury in the plains though temperatures settled above normal at many places, the weather bureau said.

After unexpected rains overnight, Delhi-ites woke up to a clear sky with the minimum temperature inching upwards by two degrees to settle at 14.2 degrees.

Mercury rose in Rajasthan with the Pink City registering a low of 12.9 degrees celsius as rains lashed the desert state.

Himachal reeled under the bone-chilling cold as mercury plummeted appreciably in the state after widespread rains.

In Lahaul and Spiti, the high altitude areas, the minimum temperature hovered between minus 17 and minus 25 degrees celsius.

Fog also enveloped several places hitting road traffic.

The Met office has forecast moderate rains or thundershowers at several places in the region in the next few days. — PTI

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Muharram observed

New Delhi, January 30
Muharram, marking the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain in Iraq’s Karbala over 1,400 years ago, was observed across India today with Shia Muslims organising traditional processions. Muharram passed off peacefully in Uttar Pradesh amid tight security in the wake of communal violence in Gorakhpur where Muslims decided not to take out tazia processions in a bid to restore normalcy.

Tazia marches were taken out in other parts of the country with members of the Shia community beating their chest and body to mourn the death of Hazrat Imam Hussain and 72 of his associates.

Four persons were injured when police opened fire to disperse two groups that clashed during a procession in Begusarai. — PTI

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Thales to take more students from India
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 30
French aerospace major Thales whose equipment and systems have been in service with the three armed forces has increased its study grants to Indian students to 15.

Interestingly, the objective of this year's intake of the Thales Academia initiative is for 50 per cent of the intake of students of Indian origin compared to 25 per cent each from China and Russia.

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BRIEFLY

Disease hits animals
MUZAFFARNAGAR:
The state Animal Husbandry Department has been alerted following an unknown disease affecting horses and donkeys in various districts of western Uttar Pradesh, official sources said here on Tuesday. At least seven animals have died of the disease in Muzaffarnagar district. Meerut and Baghpat districts are also affected with the disease. — PTI

Couple killed
LUCKNOW:
Noted Taj publication owner Kali Charan Sharma, his wife Usha and his servant Gulab Singh were killed by unidentified miscreants in Agra. The police said the incident occurred late on Monday night. Ligature marks found on their necks revealed they were strangled. Their bodies were recovered from the press compound on Tuesday. — UNI

5-yr old raped
NEW DELHI:
The five-year-old daughter of a Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) employee was sexually assaulted inside the campus on Saturday. The victim's father Ram Chander, a grade IV employee, filed a complaint on Monday saying that his neighbour, a gardener identified as Hari Prasad Meena, raped his daughter. The accused has been arrested. — PTI

Child abducted
SATNA:
An 11-year-old boy, son of a businessman, was kidnapped by unidentified miscreants while returning from school on Monday evening. Mr Mukulchand Mishra's son Kshitij was abducted and a ransom of Rs 10 lakh has been demanded for his release. — UNI

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